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Vertical Limit

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by Martin Campbell

As action director Martin Campbell's heart-pumping thriller VERTICAL LIMIT begins, an eagle glides gracefully over the stunningly filmed mesas of Utah. Its shadow falls on a vertical rock face being climbed by Peter Garrett (Chris O'Donnell), his father … see full wiki

Cast: Robin Tunney
Director: Martin Campbell
Release Date: 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about Vertical Limit

Vertical Limit - ...."Up there you're not dying, you're dead".... Glenn

  • Jun 10, 2001
Pros: Scenery

Cons: Acting, story

The Bottom Line: Don't put a lot of belief in this movie

I've never attempted climbing of any sort, so I cannot verify the authenticity of this movie. I know there are many outlandish scenes and unrealistic scenarios involved, but the beauty of the mountain and the purity of the climb are worth the watch.

The movie is based on the fact that millionaire oilman Elliot Vaughn (Bill Paxton) is back to K2 to attempt a summit, bringing along Annie Garrett (Robin Tunney) as his assistant. In addition, Garrett is writing for National Geographic Magazine, documenting the climb. Garrett's background as a climber is introduced in the opening scenes of the movie.

Many feet off the ground, attached by a few simple carabineers, Garrett is shown with her brother Peter (Chris O'Donnell) and father Royce (Stuart Wilson), we find the family tethered precariously to the side of a mountain in the desert. Unfortunately, there is a mishap above them, all the climbers fall, with the exception of the Garrett family who are attached to Annie and her tentative hold on the mountain. Knowing the only way any one of the three can be saved, father Royce tells Peter to cut him loose. This pretty much ends the relationship between Annie and Peter for many years.

Back on K2, Vaughn, Annie and troop have headed to the summit. Naturally a storm blows in, catastrophe sets in, and the mediocrity of the movie starts. Let me not forget the further crapshoot of the animosity between Vaughn and Montgomery Wick (Scott Glenn). On the previous climb Vaughn and Wick's wife had attempted the summit together - Vaughn returned but Mrs. Wick did not. Her body was never found and Wick assumes, and rightly so, that Vaughn abandoned her at the critical time. More fuel for the fodder!

Naturally Peter, who has not climbed since his father's death, attempts to find his sister (who by the way requires insulin or some such thing), and he has to team up with Wick, who has been constantly climbing the mountain looking for his lost wife - but always alone. It ain't gonna be pretty, you can betcha! Enough about the stupidity of the movie, what a damn shame!

Sitting on the sidelines
Mindless scripting aside, the movie was beautiful. If you can push aside your feelings about the incredulous adventures these people are having and enjoy the scenery, you've got a movie. I'm no expert on this sport but I have found myself knee-deep in snow for well over a year now since I summitted Everest with Jon Krakauer.

I found the beauty of the mountain breathtaking and the schematics of the base camp intriguing. I found this production no more insulting than that lamebrained Cliffhanger escapade with Stallone. At least in this production the breathing techniques and the edema problems are addressed whereas in Cliffhanger you have to believe Stallone is clambering his way up the mountain in tank top and bare hands - phooey!

While there is a lot of black humor at base camp, you feel it is a cop-out to coverup the true feelings of the climbers left behind - the survivors. Nevertheless, they join forces to attempt the rescue of the stranded climbers at above 26,000 feet. An admirable attempt, but based on so many unbelievable stunts that it ticks you off. Backpacking nitro-gylcerin, smoking, not using oxygen all the time, helicopter flying too high. If you have seen any information about high altitude climbing - especially in the death zone - you realize that these things are an impossibility.

The acting is mundane, the story puerile but the scenery is worth the watch alone. Incredible vistas, entrancing sunsets - snow like you've never seen and always in the background the majestic K2. Just watching these guys climb the sides of these sheer walls makes you shiver.

Starring Chris O'Donnell, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scoupco, Bill Paxton and my two personal favorites Steve LeMarquand and Ben Mendelsohn as off the wall brothers that are simply hysterical.

I'm torn on recommendation of this movie. As far as the story and the acting go it simply blows big time, but the scenery made the watch for me.

Written by Terry Hayes and Robert King, directed by Martin Campbell, cinematography by David Tattersall.

Susi :)


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